Tag Archives: leadership

Why Personal Resilience Can Make You a Better Leader

By Rita Pagan

IPMI Blog 03-20-20

The true grit of a leader is not how they perform during the good times, but rather how they display emotional strength, courage, and professionalism during the most trying times. It is impossible to demonstrate resilience unless you have gone through difficult times.

I’ve been in that position previously while working a 3,000-person meeting. Our host hotel suffered a kitchen fire and more than 500 attendees, staff, and board members were relocated. Within hours, we had to pack our rooms, climb stairs in the dark, notify attendees, and move an awards dinner that was planned for that evening off-property. It was a whirlwind day, but we pulled it off and with little mayhem—at least from the attendees’ perspective! It defined me and my ability to work under pressure and be calm, collected, and through about the steps that had to be taken.

In this day and age, it’s imperative to have a contingency plan for just about anything—for your office, an event, and even within your own household. Who do you call, where do you go, and what sort of communications need to be put in place?

If you carefully evaluate every mistake, every “fire,” every obstacle, you will uncover a lesson that will be important for you to learn.

Have you saved the date for IPMI’s 2020 Leadership Summit? We’ll be talking resiliency and much more, Oct 8-9 in Raleigh, N.C. Stay tuned for details.

Rita Pagan is IPMI’s events and exhibits manager.

Five Times Your Leadership is Guaranteed to Fail

By Jay Manno

Done right, leadership is difficult. It brings great rewards but at great risk. You have to put yourself on the line—so when you do, you want the best possible odds of success.

In some situations, though, failure is all but guaranteed. Here are five of the most common. Get to know them so you can steer far clear.

  1. When there is no trust. Leadership is about credibility and reliability; to be an effective leader, your followers must have trust in you. That’s why it’s critical to always take responsibility for your actions. Make sure your people feel guided and supported in their work and show they can trust your leadership.
  2. When there is no character. Leaders build excellence—helping their team become all they can. To reach that level of excellence requires leadership that is grounded in character. Excellence starts with leaders of strong character who model doing what is right, not what is easy.
  3. When there is no communication. No one ever became a great leader without first becoming a great communicator. Successful leaders connect with people on an emotional level every time they speak. Their words build relationships, teach, and inspire others. Great communication also means listening well and treating your team with candor and honesty.
  4. When there is no respect. You can’t lead anyone who doesn’t respect you and it’s hard to lead those you don’t also respect. Respect must be first given before its earned. That means thinking about every small thing you do as a leader and how it is perceived. Leaders who know how to give the utmost respect will receive respect in the form of loyalty and performance.
  5. When there is no ability. To be successful requires tactical and technical proficiency. In any organization it is the leader’s capabilities and performance that set the tone for the team’s engagement. Leadership is empty without an understanding of the work at hand, and the best leaders work constantly to improve their expertise.

How is your own leadership looking? Are you doing what it takes to propel it forward?

Lead from within: Decide what kind of leader you going to be—the kind who is content to think of themselves as the best, or the one of the few greats whose leadership achieves the highest levels.

Jay Manno is vice president, new market development, with Southland Printing.


From the Dust, Humble Inspiration

By Shawn Conrad, CAE

What a nostalgic week we just experienced.  Every time I turned on the TV to watch the news or click on a website to read the headlines, I was reminded that a Saturn V rocket made its historic journey to the moon 50 years ago–July 20, 1969. I still have vivid memories of watching Neil Armstrong descend from the spacecraft and land three feet below in a puff of moon dust. I watched it live with my family in black or white on a rather old Sylvania television.

All of my siblings knew it was going to be a special night when our parents announced we were all going to stay up to watch the moon landing. This didn’t happen often (never) and we took it all in while broadcaster Walter Cronkite tried to talk us through the historic landing.

Within all the tributes being lauded on Neil Armstrong since he made that historic leap, I think the one that stands out the most for me is how everyone described him as being extremely humble. It was well known by his friends and most reporters that from the landing in 1969 until his passing in 2012, Mr. Armstrong didn’t like all of the attention nor want all the adulation that came from being the first man to walk on the moon. His usual tactic when asked was to direct the attention to the thousands of NASA employees and their contractors who he felt made the impossible, possible.

From any planet, Neil Armstrong was a remarkable man.

Shawn Conrad, CAE, is IPMI’s CEO.

Looking for Leadership? Keep the Attitude in Check

By Perry Eggleston, CAPP, DPA

Sitting at a recent conference, I was able to watch an usher trying to guide attendees to their respective places.  While this usher was performing her job repeatedly in a black and white manner, her frustration was visible and she did not attempt to hide it.  Some guests kept quiet but some pushed back, to which the usher returned additional negative comments.

Parking and mobility can sometimes seem like we are herding cats. Especially during events, we seem to repeat the same instructions to different guests hundreds of times.  Repeating the same message can be mind-numbing. Fatigue sets in and we let it take over our mood.   We become frustrated and we allow it to show.  However, when this occurs, the only loser is you.  Your visible negativity does not fix the situation, and at the same time brings you and your organization into a poor light.

Parking and mobility industry leaders must remind ourselves negative interactions will snowball into more significant problems if we allow our frustration to show.  When presented with a negative situation, remind yourself to keep your emotions in check, and remember that a negative response would only worsen the situation.  While I am not perfect, I have learned to take pride in the times when I control my emotions and defuse a negative situation. Leadership is more than leading those that will follow; it is taking the time and effort during a negative encounter to understand, and maybe they will start following you too.

Perry Eggleston, CAPP, DPA, is director, university services, with SP+.


Proven techniques to establish yourself as an industry leader.

By Perry Eggleston, CAPP, DPH

THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF DEFINITIONS OR 19-06 Climbing the LadderPROCESSES for professionals to become leaders. All industries, including parking and mobility, attempt to incorporate some form of leadership requirement into their programs. Dictionary.com defines leadership simply as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” However, this definition does not define what the specific actions are in leadership. The question is: Which leadership actions must one use? “Leadership” is simply an accumulation of specific social/management skills applied at the proper time to motivate those who are led.
Law enforcement is one industry that created formalized leadership training for its employees. In California, the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute is a program in which law enforcement sergeants complete a curriculum of study, read­ing, and reports on various leadership styles and theories. They take part three days a month for nine months.

Warren G. Bennis, a pioneer in the field of leadership studies, said, “Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.”
Management is easier to define. Merriam-Webster Online Dic­tionary defines management or manage as “to act or direct with a degree of skill.” It seems leadership and management are syn­onymous. Both definitions require the development of skills, and those skills are teachable. However, effective leadership uses tim­ing and application of management to motivate employees, unlike management, which relies solely on authority for motivation.

Eight Competencies for Leaders

In their book, “Leadership for the Common Good: Tackling Pub­lic Problems in a Shared Power World,” authors Barbara C. Cros­by and John M. Bryson present eight competencies for effective leadership. Because the parking and mobility industry affects the quality of life for their communities, most mobility adminis­trators are expected to use all eight competencies at some point during their careers.

While all the competencies are important, their differences are slight, and as a group, they will almost appear equal. How­ever, when looking closely, the differences are logical and easily ranked in importance:

  • Personal Leadership: understanding and deploying personal assets on behalf of beneficial change.
  • Organizational Leadership: nurturing humane and effective organizations.
  • Leadership in Context: understanding the social, political, eco­nomic, and technological givens as well as potentialities.
  • Visionary Leadership: creating and communicating shared meaning in forums.
  • Ethical Leadership: sanctioning conduct and adjudicating dis­putes in court.
  • Team Leadership: building effective workgroups.
  • Policy Entrepreneur: coordinating leadership tasks over the course of a policy change cycle.
  • Political Leadership: making and implementing decisions in legislative, executive, and administrative arenas.

Foundational to the first seven competencies is personal leadership. This is further defined as a leader’s passion in sharp­ening the competencies not for personal gain, but for the better­ment of the organization. Personal leadership is who we are as leaders. These are internal morality and ethics that are ingrained while growing up by social and environment factors.

Steps to Leadership

Once emerging leaders have defined how they want to be known, they can focus on organizational leadership and leadership in context. As an emerging leader, it is important to nurture an effective organization by determining the skill sets of the team and to understand how external forces affect the organization. The emerging leader will better use the remaining competen­cies by understanding how the internal and external players affect the organization.

The policy entrepreneur and political leadership competencies are external to the organization and those over which the new leader has the least control. However, mastery of these two are important to the well-being of the organization, which can affect the morale of the employees.  When there are policy direction changes coming from a new campus president (or other administrators), new mayor (and/or city council), or a new board of directors, the previous organizational goals are threatened. How the policy entrepreneur and political leader navigate these new forces will affect their status as a leader, both internally and externally to the organization.


Up to this point, the discussion has focused on general leader­ship competencies to better understand how organizational leadership is seen in differing contexts. However, contemporary non-academic articles provide some of the best suggestions to specific leader actions that are useful for the parking and mobili­ty professional. The majority of the literature can be broken into three general topics:

  • Communicate. Be a master communicator. As Stephen Covey wrote in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Most people listen so they can prepare for a response instead of listening to under­stand the message. This takes being quiet and listening, rather than speaking. It takes humbling oneself by taking the time to understand the message, rather than forcing a message. Praise in public, counsel in private, but remember to take personal responsibility when things go wrong. Don’t blame others!
  • Teach instead of direct. Leadership is not knowing every­thing. That is why teams are created—so each member can bring a particular skill to the team. Teaching others your skills allows you to become a teacher instead of just a boss. Included in teaching is challenging yourself and your team to achieve sustained results. Remember, it is influence, and not authority that makes a great leader. Teach to gain respect, and be willing to learn from others. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, said, “When you’re green, you are growing. When you’re ripe, you rot.” Especially in the parking and mobility industry and its your integrity. Integrity keeps your message authentic.ever-changing technologies, be willing to keep learning or your effectiveness as a leader will rot.
  • Be passionate and humble. Be passionate about your employees, care for your organization’s mission, and encourage your staff to accomplish impossible tasks. Be inspirational by showing empathy and maintaining your integrity. Integrity keeps your message authentic.  A true leader parks his or her ego at the door and aspires to be respected as a person instead of demanding respect due to title or position. Lead by example, but let others shine. Leaders are only as successful as those they lead. Your credit comes when the team shines, so give them the most shares of the credit. Leader­ship is not about you; it is about those you are serving.


Using the Skills

Leadership skills are learnable, but like any soft skill, they are acquired by repetition and education. They will dull without consistent use. While some are born leaders, most of us must make positive efforts to learn leadership and practice them daily. Many job descriptions, especially for supervisory and manage­ment positions, expect some level of leadership competency. However, these same industries do not provide leadership train­ing. The expectation is that employees must obtain leadership training from outside the organization via university courses or other channels.

Parking and mobility industry professionals have access to formal and informal leadership training opportunities. The CAPP program through IPMI includes a section on leadership while other leadership training opportunities are available through the regional parking and transportation organizations. A method of self-study is also available. There are numerous authors: Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, and Warren Bennis are great places to start. Be curious! The best leaders are always seeking new and better ways to lead, and our industry is chang­ing too fast to stop.

Read the article here.

PERRY EGGLESTON, CAPP, DPA, is director, SP+ University Services. He can be reached at peggleston@spplus.com.


Chemical Dependency and the Circle of Safety

By Casey Jones, CAPP

If you haven’t read any of Simon Sinek’s books or listened to him speak, you’re missing out. He covers leadership, teamwork, and communications. I’ve just finished his second book, Leaders Eat Last,  which appeared on both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestseller lists after it was published in 2014; it was recently updated to include content regarding millennials.

Sinek covers a lot of ground in this highly digestible and informative book. What distinguishes this book from the many out there focused on teams and effective leadership is the idea that there are strong physiological reasons behind our propensity to act for the good of our group or focus on self-preservation. Sinek discusses the chemicals that drive selfish actions–endorphins and dopamine–and the ones that reinforce selflessness–serotonin and oxytocin. These four chemicals controlled the behavior of our prehistoric ancestors and still do so today. To understand the effect of these chemicals on our behavior and why they exist is to understand that we are created to work together to accomplish our goals in work, at home, and in life.

The other key theme of this book is the notion of the “circle of safety,” which Sinek describes as a fundamental and critical feature of effective and successful organizations. Leaders draw a circle around their people (not just themselves and their closest confidants) and keep them safe from internal dangers such as fear of losing one’s job or fear of ridicule and public humiliation from failures. Employees are more likely to work together, trust one another, and cooperate when a strong and generous circle of safety exists, making their teams more capable of dealing with external dangers from competition or emerging and uncontrollable variables beyond the organization’s control.

Give Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last a read and tell me what you think.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is vice president with TimHaahs.

Follow the Leader

By Tiffany Smith

From childhood, we have played the simple game follow the leader, where one person leads the masses.  Today we still have leaders but following one individual has become increasingly more difficult to do.  Why is this?  I believe it’s because most leaders don’t place enough emphasis on being a leader, which is more than simply a title.  It’s a charge!

It’s charge to motivate, inspire, and ignite an organization to do the exceptional, because they see it being done. It’s owning their task, their role, their part in the organization, with passion, zeal, excitement, and even joy.  It’s investing in your most valuable resource–your staff–and as a result, experiencing a return on that investment that pays extraordinary dividends.

I’ve heard high-level leaders say they don’t have time to make the type of investments I preach about; my answer is you can’t afford to not make the investment. The reality is that 90 percent of my staff could leave tomorrow, find other jobs, make more money, but they won’t!  That’s not because of me but because they feel valued and inspired and they know they are making a difference.  What do we do daily? We play follow the leader!

Tiffany Smith is director of the Parking Authority of River City, Inc. She will present on this topic at the 2019 IPMI Conference & Expo, June 9-12 in Anaheim, Calif. For more information and to register, click here.


March Mad-ness

By Casey Jones, CAPP

March is an amazing time for basketball fans when exiting matchups, buzzer-beaters, and improbable Cinderella teams knock off the heavyweights.  It’s also a time to see many different approaches to coaching, which I find interesting because I’ve always been a student of leadership. There are many leaders on a basketball team but the coach plays the pivotal role and different leadership styles often produce different results–I don’t mean in strict terms of wins and losses necessarily, but how each coach influences their players and the resulting relationships between the two. There are lessons in basketball we can use in our own organizations.

There are two general types of coaches: The first type I will call Coach Cool. Coach Cool is mostly composed; rarely resorts to fits of rage or anger at officials, players, or opposing teams; and when a player makes a mistake and gets pulled from the game, Coach Cool talks directly to them, reinforces what must be done next time, and gives an encouraging swat on the behind.

Contrasting Coach Cool is Coach Mad. Coach Mad nearly always appears angry and on the verge of throwing something onto the court. He is not opposed to berating and demeaning his players (or anyone else on the court) publicly and when a player screws up a play, he yanks them from the game and continues his tirade mercilessly until another player or official gives him reason to shift focus and attention.

Both styles can produce wins, but Coach Cool’s approach is far more constructive, supportive, and endearing than Coach Mad’s. Coaches and leaders often must be tough, but anger and contempt only demoralize teams and individuals, limiting their effectiveness long-term. Conversely, those who love their teams and create a constructive environment where failure and mistakes are a natural and acceptable part of improvement win in the end.

Enjoy lots of great basketball and leadership lessons this month and good luck with your bracket.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is vice president with TimHaahs.

On the Lighter Side of Leadership

“First rule of leadership: Everything is your fault.” -A Bug’s Life.

We’re easing back in on a Monday morning (who’s with us?) and when we saw Inc.’s story listing 17 powerfully inspiring (and funny) quotes for every leader, we couldn’t resist sharing. Because, well, everybody who’s ever led anyone has been there. Some of our favorites:

  • “Leadership is your ability to hide your panic from others.” -Laozi
  • “By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be boss and work 12 hours a day.” -Robert Frost
  • “The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone. You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it.” -Elaine Agather
  • “The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.” -Casey Stengel

We see you smiling! Want more? Check out the whole list here. And have a great Monday!

“But is it worth it?” The Unseen ROI of Leadership Skills

By Rita Pagan

Many organizations spend thousands of dollars on professional development for their employees to master skills they think employees can immediately apply to their job and affect the bottom line. But do they truly understand the benefits of investing in leadership skills? And for more than just leaders? According to the Harvard Business Review, studies show companies with outstanding leadership teams outperform other organizations by 19 percent.

Here are a few leadership skills that can immediately benefit any organization:

Teamwork makes the dream work! Learning how to effectively manage a team and drive teamwork is a skill that immediate benefits any organization. Sounds cheesy but when you have an effective team, anything can be accomplished. Investing in teaching employees how to work as a team can benefit everyone at any level, especially with many organizations implementing work-from-home policies.

Develop your self-awareness. Self-awareness allows leaders to identify the gaps in their management skills and uncover the areas in which they are most effective and those where they need a little help. Chances are, your coworkers are better at rating some parts of your personality than you are. Attending leadership events or workshops might make you have one of those ah-ha moments! I’ve had at least one of those at every leadership conference I’ve been to recently–one where I have to stop myself from yelling “OMG, that’s me!” out loud. In a room full of 100 other people.

Trust & Transparency. When an organization is more transparent with their employees, it tends to be more successful. This type of environment leaves employees feeling valued. They are encouraged to be creative and share their input. When an organization is not fostering trust, this can lead to misinformation, employee turnover and role confusion.

What are some results you’ve experienced from attending a leadership conference?

Rita Pagan is IPMI’s sales and exhibits coordinator and a lead planner for IPMI’s own professional development leadership event coming next fall in Pittsburgh, Pa.